Frederick James BAXTER MC * (and Bar)

BAXTER, Frederick James

Service Numbers: 708, Commissioned Officer
Enlisted: 25 February 1916, B Company (original)
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 38th Infantry Battalion
Born: Bendigo, Greater Bendigo - Victoria, Australia, 17 July 1892
Home Town: Leichardt, Loddon, Victoria
Schooling: Eaglehawk School, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: School Teacher
Died: Effects of the war, Bendigo, Greater Bendigo - Victoria, Australia, 19 June 1921, aged 28 years
Cemetery: Creswick Public Cemetery
C.E. 8. 1325.
Memorials: Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

25 Feb 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 708, 38th Infantry Battalion, B Company (original)
20 Jun 1916: Involvement Lance Corporal, SN 708, 38th Infantry Battalion
17 May 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 38th Infantry Battalion
8 Aug 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, SN Commissioned Officer, 38th Infantry Battalion, The Battle of Amiens
8 Aug 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, SN Commissioned Officer, 38th Infantry Battalion, "The Last Hundred Days"
10 Aug 1918: Honoured Military Cross, The Battle of Amiens, see stories panel for citation
30 Aug 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, SN Commissioned Officer, 38th Infantry Battalion, Mont St Quentin / Peronne
5 Sep 1918: Honoured Military Cross and bar, Mont St Quentin / Peronne, See 'stories' panel for citation

Awarded MC and Bar

Recommendation date: 16 August 1918
Distinguished Service Order (altered to Bar to Military Cross)


Recommendation date: 5 September 1918
Medals
Military Cross

'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During the advance this officer skilfully organized and led an attack on an enemy strong post, capturing one officer and twenty eight other ranks. His work throughout was up to a high standard of efficiency.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 61
Date: 23 May 1919
Bar to Military Cross

'For conspicuous gallantry and organizing capacity near Proyart on 10th August 1918. He had a storming party under heavy machine gun fire, took the position, capturing twenty five prisoners and two machine guns, and recovered two of our anti-tank guns. He held the position for three hours with only four men, and for nine hours longer when seven more men helped him. On other occasions he was always in the thick of the fighting capturing more machine guns and silencing a "whizz-bang" gun.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 67
Date: 3 June 1919

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Biography contributed by Geoffrey Gillon

At the time of his enlistment at Bendigo on 25th February 1916, he had served 3 years in the Australian Light Horse (militia).

He was promoted from Second Lieutenant to Lieutenant in the 38th Bn. Australian Infantry, A.I.F. on 13 September 1917.At one time he was a Musketry Officer.

He was awarded the MC and Bar for service in France. He died aged 28.

Biography contributed by Jack Coyne

BAXTER, Frederick James

Military Cross & Bar

 

Military Cross

‘East of PROYART on the 12th August, 1918, Lieut. BAXTER displayed gallantry and initiative.- He skilfully organised and led an attack on an enemy strong post, capturing one Officer and 28 Other Ranks. This officer’s work during the advance was of very high order’.  

Bar to Military Cross

‘On August 31st during the advance from CLERY Copse he was in the thick of the fighting. He shot 2 of the crew of an enemy machine gun then dashed forward followed by a Lewis gunner and captured the remainder of the crew. On reaching the objective he organised the patrols of the Company and took out several himself. One of those he took to a distant objective – silenced a whizz-bang gun which had been very troublesome and gained valuable information. Throughout the whole of the fighting the work of this officer has been of the highest order. His influence for good among his men was incalculable and he succeeded his courage and determination to all’.

 

The above MC recommendation was preceded by an earlier recommendation. The additional information not included in the this recommendation states, ‘Lieut. BAXTER had only four men with him and then for 3 hours held the position in the face of heavy machine gun fire and an intense artillery barrage. A reinforcement of seven men was sent up and Lieut. BAXTER hold (sic) on to the post, still under heavy fire, for another 9 hours until relieved by the advancing line next day. He was the life of the garrison and the taking and holding of the post at a critical period enabled the whole line to get forward’.

Born 1892 in Bendigo to parents Andrew and Elizabeth Baxter farmers of Leichardt north of Bendigo.[1] Frederick’s father passed away in 1914 and his widowed mother Elizabeth was listed as his Nearest of Kin when he enlisted. Educated in Eaglehawk he would become a schoolteacher in the employ of the Education Department. It appears he was teaching back at his original hometown of Leichardt when he enlisted. 

Fred Baxter’s deeds were well known in the district even before his August ‘18 heroics. In early 1918 Captain Akeroyd an invalided, returned leader in the 38th Battalion would make rousing speeches in the district as part of the recruitment process mentioning the names of brave local lads who had served with him. At a lecture at the Eaglehawk Town Hall on ‘Raiding by Australians in France’ and he would praise an Eaglehawk soldier in Fred Baxter who rallied the company and led them onwards in the charge against the Germans. [2] ‘He (Akeroyed) was leading his men when a shell landed just in front, knocking him unconscious for the second. On recovering he heard Baxter, who was a company sergeant-major, yelling to the men, "Come on! 'Come on! We must go on, and lead the men on." For his day's work he was granted a commission.[3]

Within a week of his heroics on the Somme at Clery, Fred would fall ill and be shipped to England on September 5th and admitted to hospital in London. His condition warrants immediate return to Australia and he leaves England on December 4, 1918 arriving at Port Melbourne on January 15, 1919. His medical record was marked as ‘Invalid’.

 

Photo taken from National Archives Australia

https://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/person/83760

 

 

Service Number: 708

Born: Bendigo

Address on Enlistment: Leichhardt, VIC

School: Eaglehawk School.

Age at Enlistment: 22

Occupation: School Teacher

Served: Western Front.

Unit: 38th Battalion

Final Rank: Lieutenant, 17 May 1917

Fate: Returned to Australia 15 January, 1919

Died: June 19, 1921 Age 28

MC Medal Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 61

Date: 23 May 1919

Bar to MC Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 67

Date: 3 June 1919

 

Action where Frederick Baxter's Bravery Medal awarded.

Military Cross - East of Proyart on the 12th August, 1918.

‘The southern column, however, advancing with its tanks along the cobbled roman road towards Peronne, ran into newly posted Germans. The leading tanks were literally outlined with the sparks of machine-gun bullets, and the thrust ended in sharp loss. Here it took two more days of difficult fighting by infantry, with little artillery support, to secure the intended ground about the village of Proyart.’[4] Bean 

 

Bar to Military Cross - August 31 From Clery Copse.

‘The troops being so few, the company leaders decided that the best chance lay in making a noise as they attacked, yelling as Captain E.T Manefield urged, “ like a lot of bushrangers” At 5:30 am on August 31st, as the grey skies began to show behind the mount, which was dimly visible across a gentle dip, the Australian field artillery laid its fire on certain targets ahead, in the first place along 2500 yards of one of the old trench-lines which, with their belts of rusty wire, seamed the depression and the upslope beyond. The cheering platoons at once ran into crowds of Germans, who seemed bewildered and quickly surrendered - indeed in many cases they were simply pushed to the rear with their hands up, leaving their machine-guns lying on the ground.’[5]

 



[1] Inglewood Advertiser, Friday 18 December, 1914, p.2
[2] Bendigo Independent Monday, May 6, 1918, p.8
[3] Bendigo Independent Friday April 26, 1918, p.3
[4] Anzac to Amiens, C.E.W.Bean. Penguin Books.2014. P. 474 – 475.
[5] Anzac to Amiens, C.E.W.Bean. Penguin Books.2014. P. 481 – 482.

 Reference: Borough Bravery. Eaglehawk- Australia's most decorated Municipality in the Great War ? 

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